Thanksgiving is almost here…but what if you want to make a dessert with a little more wow factor (forget the usual pies!)? We heart François Payard’s Sweet Potato Chocolate Tart—an odd but amazing use of a Thanksgiving staple!
Although it might sound like an odd combination, sweet potatoes work really well with chocolate. Their sweet flavor is distinctive without being overpowering.
It might disappear if used in a very chocolaty dessert, so here I used a thin layer of chocolate glaze over the cooked sweet potato purée, which is then placed on a puff pastry base, for added taste and texture.
A sprinkle of salt finishes the tart, reinforcing both the sweet and the savory flavors of the dessert. It’s a great dessert to serve when you want something other than the same old sweet potato pie.
Sweet Potato Chocolate Tart
1 frozen puff pastry sheet (14 ounces), thawed, or 1 pound Quick Chocolate Puff Pastry
Sweet Potato Filling:
2 medium sweet potatoes
2 Tbsp. (1 ounce; 30 grams) unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. (30 grams) maple syrup
Make the tart base: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
On a very lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a rectangle about ¼ inch thick and at least 9 inches wide. Pierce the entire surface with a fork and brush off the excess flour. Place the puff pastry on the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
Remove the puff pastry from the refrigerator. Using a round 9-inch cake pan as a guide, cut a 9-inch round out of the puff pastry. Reserve the scraps for another use, or discard.
Place a silicone baking mat or another piece of parchment paper over the puff pastry, then cover with a wire cooling rack to keep it from rising too much. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the rack and silicone baking mat and increase the heat to 450°F. Sift some confectioners’ sugar over the top of the puff pastry, and bake for 5 more minutes, until the sugar begins to caramelize and darken. Remove the base from the oven, and set it aside to cool.
Make the filling: Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F.
Rinse, peel, and cut the sweet potatoes in half. Place them on 1 large piece of aluminum foil. Put ½ tablespoon of butter and maple syrup over each half, and wrap them in the foil. Bake for about 1 hour, or until a knife easily pierces through their flesh.
When the potatoes are cooked, remove them from the oven and immediately purée them in a food processor until smooth or pass them through a potato ricer.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and place a 9 x 2 ½-inch-high cake ring mold on the baking sheet. Fill the ring to the rim with the purée. Smooth the top of the ring with a large offset spatula, and place the baking sheet in the freezer until the cake sets, at least 1 hour or up to 1 week (tightly wrapped in plastic wrap).
Finish the tart: Remove the baking sheet from the freezer about 1 hour before serving, so that the sweet potato purée has time to thaw out. Gently lift the ring from the cake. Place a wire cooling rack in the baking sheet, and place the frozen purée on it.
Pour the glaze over the purée, completely covering it. Push it down the sides with a large offset spatula if needed. When the glaze has slightly set, after 3 to 5 minutes, place the purée on top of the puff pastry.
Decorate the sides of the tart with chocolate shards, and sprinkle fleur de sel over its top. Serve at room temperature. The tart can be assembled up to 6 hours before serving.
Makes one 9-inch tart; serves 8 to 10
Glazing cakes give them the beautiful, shiny finish you see in pastry shops. A glaze is a loose ganache, made by melting chocolate with hot cream and adding a little corn syrup for shine. In order for the glaze to cover the cake smoothly, it should feel warm to the touch, close to body temperature.
If needed, and particularly if the chocolate is not full ymelted, fill a medium pot one-third full with water and bring it to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and, ensuring that the bowl containing the glaze doesn’t touch the water, place it over the pot. Mix until the glaze is smooth and reaches the desired temperature.
Glaze is best used immediately, but you can keep it, covered and refrigerated, for two to three days. Reheat it as directed above, adding a teaspoon of light corn syrup to regain some of the shine that will have been lost in the refrigeration process.
8 ounces (250 grams) 61% or 72% chocolate, chopped
1 Tbsp. (12 grams) light corn syrup
1 cup (250 grams) heavy cream
Place the chocolate and corn syrup in a medium bowl.
Pour the heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Strain the mixture into a bowl. Use immediately.
Makes enough to cover a 9-inch cake
Chocolate Epiphany, Exceptional Cookies, Cakes, and Confections for Everyone
Clarkson Potter, New York, 2007
François Payard is a third generation French Pastry Chef who grew up in Nice, France. After honing his skills in classic pastry by his family’s side, François’ desire to travel and discover a new culture brought him to New York in 1990.
In September 2010 François opened FPB, a casual bakery on West Houston Street in downtown New York City, where guests can enjoy a variety of sweet and savory selections. More on François>
GIRL TALK TIME: What do you think of these recipes? What’s your favorite kind of cake for fall?